Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 29

On-Campus Satisfaction of Students with Autism

Autism is a characteristic of one's identity that may
shape an individual's life, but does not define them or
limit their ability to thrive and succeed.
particular challenges with connection, tolerance, and control (Harrison, 1998). Practically, these challenges may show up as communication difficulties, problems with social
interactions, and restricted, repetitive behaviors (Seltzer et al., 2003). ASD may be diagnosed by a medical professional based on
the individual's ability to communicate, their
social interactions, and their varying levels of
interests and activities. Autism is a characteristic of one's identity that may shape an
individual's life, but does not define them or
limit their ability to thrive and succeed.
	
Students with ASD may face additional challenges with the transition to college
because of a lack of support from friends,
impairments impacting their visual or
tactile sensory faculties, and heightened
sensitivities to campus noise, crowds, and
smells (Anderson et al., 2017; Kuder & Accardo, 2018). In addition to the challenges
faced during the transition to college, data
indicate that many of these students are not
being retained, nor are they achieving the
completion rates of their peers. For example, although there has been an increase in
the number of students with ASD in college
classrooms, the rate of postsecondary degrees for this population remains stagnant
(Matthews et al., 2015). Along with poor
transition and retention, students with ASD
may face mental health issues in the college
setting. Comorbid anxiety and/or depression in individuals with ASD are as high as
65% (Ghaziuddin, 2002). Comorbid implies
that an individual is affected by more than
one disorder concurrently, such as a diagnosis of ASD and anxiety (Ghaziuddin, 2002).

26

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

UNIVERSITY SUPPORT
FOR STUDENTS WITH ASD
Support for students with ASD often falls
on disability services offices within higher
education. But college disability offices may
already be understaffed and unable to provide the necessary support for this student
population (Wenzel & Rowley, 2010). For
this reason, it is the responsibility of all student and academic affairs professionals to
continually work to provide resources to help
students with ASD succeed. However, due to
the difficulty of recruiting staff to coordinate
intervention strategies, there are still many
challenges related to supporting students
with ASD (Shmulsky et al., 2015; Weiss &
Rohland, 2015).
	
In the last two decades, higher education literature has included more and
more information about autism-related
resources and support interventions. These
resources include books, worksheets and
assessments (Wolf et al., 2009), ASDspecific technology (Asaro-Saddler et al.,
2015), and individual support strategies
(Accardo et al., 2019; Welkowitz & Baker,
2005). Even with the increasing number
of studies of students with ASD, more research that is specific to university student
housing is needed.
	
Housing and residence life offices have
a unique opportunity to assist in the holistic development of residential students with
disabilities. Their proximity to students and
their personal spaces makes it possible to intercede at an earlier and deeper level. " Resident advisors may be the first to detect signs
of depression or increased anxiety " in students with ASD " before it becomes an acute



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